Drowning and Water Safety

Parents and guardians need to be extra vigilant around kids and water.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is a leading cause of injury death for children 14 years old and younger. More children between 1 and 4 years old die of drowning than any other cause besides birth defects. This doesn’t mean you have to scrap your water fun. There are plenty of ways to keep kids safe around water, the CDC says.

PAY ATTENTION When your kids are around water, pay very close attention. A child can get into trouble around water quickly. If you have a pool at your house or are at a house with a pool, this is incredibly important. Even if you’re not planning to swim, kids can get into the pool without a parent knowing. If you own a pool, keep it fenced, and have a self-closing, self-latching gate with a lock.

PREPARE CHILDREN FOR THE WATER Kids (and adults) should know how to float, dog paddle, move through the water and other ways to keep themselves afloat if they get into trouble. If you’re going into natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers or the ocean, wear life jackets. Don’t just have them on the boat; actually wear them, no matter how good a swimmer the wearer is. Life jackets or floating devices also are good in pools for younger children or weak swimmers.

KNOW THE SIGNS OF DROWNING AND HOW TO PERFORM CPR Most real-life drownings don’t look like drownings on TV. People often aren’t yelling for help, splashing violently or waving to get attention. Look for these signs: head low in the water, with the mouth at water level; eyes glassy or closed; gasping for breath; not using their legs to push themselves up; trying to swim but aren’t able to; or trying to roll over onto their backs. Parents, guardians and older children also should learn CPR so that if someone is in trouble, they can help keep the person alive until EMTs arrive.